Sat, Jul 26, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Nearsightedness on rise in schoolchildren: doctor

By Tsai Chang-sheng  /  Staff reporter

The number of elementary-school students with nearsightedness has risen in fewer than three weeks since summer vacation started earlier this month, because many of them stay at home and play on cellphones and tablet computers, Hsinchu Cathay General Hospital said, adding that parents should take better care of their children.

The hospital’s Department of Ophthalmology head Chen Ying-shan (陳瑩山) said that in the past week, he had seen more than 50 elementary-school-aged children in the hospital for eye problems, most of them having pseudomyopia.

Chen said that most parents brought their children in because the youngsters complained of having dry eyes.

Chen found that most of the children had been playing on tablet computers or cellphones for more than four hours on average each day since the beginning of the summer holidays.

More than half of the parents said they did not restrict their children’s use of the devices because, being at work, they could not look after the children at home.

Chen said that according to his own analysis, 20 percent of the children with pseudomyopia spent a lot of time on tablet computers to look up information for their homework, but 80 percent spent their time playing online games or browsing social network sites.

Chen urged parents to tell their children to take a 10 minute break after 30 minutes of screen time and to not use the devices for more than an hour per day because the harm that the small screens can cause to children is much more serious than for adults since children’s eyes have not yet fully matured.

Chen added that children should eat more green vegetables to increase their xanthophyll intake to help their eyes.

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